Today we have a guest post from our friend Stephanie of Housewife Mama! Enjoy!
Living on a budget has been a part of our family life since a few months after Michael and I were married. Being college students with little money will do that to you. We found a great resource in Dave Ramsey and his “Total Money Makeover” book. This, along with using our own self-discipline and commitment to living within our means has proven to be a successful way of living, financially, for us.
Now that we are even more adulty, with kids and stuff (stuff being a mortgage, student loan payments, etc.) living on a budget has never been more important, especially since we are living on one income as I stay at home with the kids. Good thing I got that bachelor’s degree. I kid. I used it for a few years, and I plan to use it again someday, maybe. Speaking of college, Michael and I both have a grandiose amount of student loan debt that is currently in repayment and if we didn’t live on a budget, they could easily put us under.
I’ve written an in-depth post about how our budget works which you can read here. However, I wanted to hone in on kid-specific stuff in more detail. For instance, one of our budget’s “funds” is for the kids. This means I have x amount of dollars per month to spend on our children’s needs. This does not include things like food, which is something we buy for the whole family and has its own fund. This does include things like diapers, wipes, clothing, sippy cups, diaper genie refills, etc. (I think you get the point). It’s nice having the budget fund for them because I have a set amount of money that I can spend and I never feel guilty for buying things they need, and occasionally things they don’t need if there is a few dollars to spare every now and then).
Like every other fund in our budget, the kids fund is set to cover the basic necessities and not much more. This leaves little room for frivolous or even at-retail-cost spending. This means that if I want to get them stuff, I’ve got to find a way to get it as cheaply as I can so I can get the best bang for my buck. Here are a couple of ways that I do that.
Pampers are great, don’t get me wrong, but you won’t see me strutting down the Wal-Mart aisles with a package in tow. They’re just not affordable for us. In fact, I usually don’t buy my diapers at brick and mortar stores in general. I prefer to buy mine at amazon.com. I can usually find great deals and often have amazon gift codes to get even more money off. I find that the larger the quantity of diapers you buy, the less expensive they are per diaper. Also, they have a “subscribe and save” program that takes another percentage off the price and offers free shipping. Recently I have waded into the world of cloth diapering to try and save even more cash. I think I will continue to get deeper into the cloth diapering ocean and continue to build our “stash” as this has been a positive experience for us.
Outfitting a child can be a ridiculous expense if you are buying “new” clothes for them. Very rarely have I paid full retail price for an article of clothing for my child, and if I did, it was probably at Target or somewhere else affordable. There are so many other places to buy their clothes for a lot less. The catch is, you just have to buy them used. You can do this via consignment stores/sales and thrift stores. I find the thrift store prices to be less than consignment prices so I tend to shop there more. Our thift store often has 50% off sales or $.99 days and you can really score big then. With my mom and myself thrifting at our stores and some clothes that were given to us, we usually end up with more than we need. This means that I gather all of the clothes that do not fit my child well or weren’t the right season and sell them at consignment. I use the money I make there to purchase the clothing I buy at the thrift store I end up not having to spend much at all on their clothing.
Raising kids on a budget does not have to be stressful. It can even be fun if you enjoy finding deals. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to have an endless supply of money to spend on my kids, but since that won’t be happening anytime soon, I’ll make things work with what we have and I’ll teach my kids how to do it along the way.
Stephanie is a mom to Adah (2 years) and Abigail (3 months) and wife to Michael. She is a SAHM who just started blogging again at www.housewifemama.wordpress.com.